Illinois Minimum Wage: Minimum Wage in Illinois for 2024

January 16, 2024
Illinois Minimum Wage

Illinois minimum wage has been a topic of extensive discussion and analysis, especially in business and employment. Understanding the complexities of minimum wage regulations is vital for restaurant owners, business proprietors, and employers in the hospitality sector. 

This comprehensive guide will navigate you through the various aspects of the minimum wage in Illinois, shedding light on local variations, historical changes, and the implications these wages have on the restaurant industry.

Whether you're pondering over the current minimum wage in Illinois or strategizing for the future, this blog post will provide you with the insights needed to make informed decisions.

What is the Minimum Wage in Illinois?

Last year, 2023, the state witnessed a significant uplift in its minimum wage standards, setting the hourly rate at $13.00 for workers aged 18 and above. For the younger demographic, specifically those under 18, the wage was adjusted to a competitive $10.50 per hour, provided their annual work hours for an employer did not exceed 650.

As the calendar flipped to 2024, Illinois continued on its path of incremental growth in wage rates. The minimum wage experienced another rise, now pegging the standard at $14.00 per hour for adult workers. Meanwhile, for those youthful talents under 18, a revised rate of $12.00 per hour took effect, maintaining the condition that their annual working hours remain under the 650-hour mark.

Minimum Wage for Tipped Employees in Illinois

The minimum wage for tipped employees in Illinois is $8.40 per hour, effective as of January 1, 2024. However, understanding the minimum wage for tipped employees goes beyond this base rate. 

Here are the key details you need to be aware of:

  • Tip Credit: Employers can take a tip credit of up to 40% of the minimum wage. This means they can pay tipped employees a base rate of as low as $5.60 per hour on the condition that their tips make up the difference to reach the minimum wage of $8.40 per hour.

  • First 90 Days: During an employee's initial 90 days of employment with a specific employer, they must receive the full minimum wage of $14 per hour before any tip credit can be applied.

How Tip Credit Works

Tip credit is a provision that allows employers to pay tipped employees a lower direct wage under the condition that the tips received adequately bridge the gap to meet the standard minimum wage in Illinois. Essentially, this mechanism recognizes tips as a part of the employee’s total earnings, aligning with the principle that their income, combining direct wages and tips, should never fall short of what is minimum wage in Illinois.

To adeptly apply the tip credit, employers must be meticulously aware of several key aspects:

  • Tip Credit Threshold: Employers should know the maximum allowable tip credit, ensuring that the direct wage, combined with earned tips, meets or exceeds the current Illinois minimum wage.

  • Transparent Communication: It's imperative for employers to explicitly inform their tipped employees about the tip credit provision, detailing how it influences their wages and overall earnings.

  • Accurate Tip Recording: Maintaining precise records of the tips received by employees is not just a best practice but a legal necessity, safeguarding both the employer's and the employee's interests.

  • Regular Adjustments: Given the adjustments to the minimum wage in Illinois for 2024, employers must remain vigilant and regularly update the tip credit to remain in line with the current wage standards.

Illinois Overtime Minimum Wage

In Illinois, the overtime minimum wage is set at $21.00 per hour, one and a half times the regular minimum wage of $14.00 per hour. However, not every employee falls under this standard. 

Here are critical points to remember:

  1. Applicability: The $21.00 overtime rate applies primarily to non-exempt employees. Certain salaried employees, executives, or professionals might be exempt based on their specific duties and salary levels.

  2. Calculation Basis: Overtime in Illinois is calculated based on a 40-hour workweek. Any hours worked beyond this threshold within a single week qualify for the overtime rate.

  3. Local Variations: Be mindful of local ordinances. Cities like Chicago might enforce higher minimum wage and overtime rates.

Local Minimum Wages in Illinois

In Illinois, local minimum wage rates can vary significantly, with specific regulations tailored to the needs of each municipality. Chicago and Cook County are two major jurisdictions that have taken proactive steps to adjust their wage floors above the statewide baseline, reflecting their unique economic conditions and cost of living.

Chicago Minimum Wage

As one of the largest cities in Illinois, Chicago has its own minimum wage ordinance that impacts businesses within its boundaries. The city established a baseline of $15 per hour in 2021 for its minimum wage, which has been steadily increasing since then. Adjustments are made annually, based either on the Consumer Price Index or a minimum rate of 2.5%.

  • For businesses with 21 or more employees in Chicago, the minimum wage is $15.80 per hour as of July 1, 2023. If you operate a smaller business with 4 to 20 employees within city limits, the minimum wage is slightly lower at $15.00 per hour.

  • Tipped workers, such as restaurant servers, have their own minimum wage rates. For employees with 21 or more workers, the minimum wage for tipped workers is $9.48 per hour, while it's $9.00 per hour for those employed by businesses with 4 to 20 workers. 

  • City contracts or concessionaire agreements also come with specific wage rates. As of July 1, 2023, the minimum wage for such employees is $16.80 per hour. When gratuities are factored in for positions that typically receive tips, the adjusted wage rate becomes $8.80 per hour.

Cook County Minimum Wage

Cook County's minimum wage is determined based on the greatest rate among the Federal minimum wage, Illinois State minimum wage, or the County's calculation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI). However, there's an exception: if the unemployment rate in Cook County is 8.5% or higher, the County's calculation cannot be used.

As of January 1, 2024, Cook County's minimum wage for tipped workers has increased to $8.40 per hour, while non-tipped workers now receive a minimum wage of $14.00 per hour. 

Historical Minimum Wage Rates in Illinois

The journey of the minimum wage in Illinois mirrors the state’s commitment to improving the living standards of its workforce. Here’s a snapshot of how the minimum wage has evolved over the years:

2014: $8.25

2015: $8.25

2016: $8.25

2017: $8.25

2018: $8.25

2019: $8.25

2020: $10.00

2021: $11.00

2022: $12.00

2023: $13.00

2024: $14.00

This trajectory is part of a strategic plan aiming for a $15.00 per hour minimum wage by 2025, ensuring a gradual and sustainable increase.

Source: Labor Law Center

Illinois State Minimum Wage vs Federal Minimum Wage

Understanding the interplay between state and federal minimum wage laws is crucial for business owners to ensure legal compliance and optimal operational planning. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the national wage standard, but states have the autonomy to establish higher minimum wages. Employers are required to pay their employees the higher of the two applicable wages. Let’s break down the federal and state guidelines.

Federal Minimum Wage

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates a national minimum wage of $7.25 per hour for covered, non-exempt employees. Notably, this rate has remained unchanged since July 24, 2009, marking an extended period without adjustments. This baseline serves as a protective threshold ensuring minimum earnings.

For tipped employees, the base pay is $2.13 per hour. However, total earnings (tips plus base pay) must meet or exceed $7.25 per hour. If they don’t, employers are obliged to compensate for the shortfall. This standard, enforced by the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, sets the groundwork for minimum wage standards nationwide.

State Minimum Wage

In contrast to the federal rate, Illinois sets its own minimum wage, often surpassing the federal mandate. This means that employers in Illinois must adhere to the state’s specific wage requirements, which are designed to align more closely with the state’s cost of living and economic conditions. 

When an employee is subject to both state and federal minimum wage laws, the higher wage prevails. Therefore, understanding what the minimum wage in Illinois is becomes a primary concern for employers, ensuring that they comply with the most beneficial standard for their employees.

Illinois Minimum Wage Exemptions

In Illinois, the following exemptions exist regarding minimum wage and overtime requirements:

Minimum Wage and Overtime Exemptions

1. Outside Salesmen: Exempt from both minimum wage and overtime requirements.

2. Computer Employees: Exempt from both minimum wage and overtime requirements.

3. Specific Employee Categories: Exempt from both minimum wage and overtime requirements:

  • Employers with less than four employees (excluding immediate family members).

  • Employees in agriculture or aquaculture under certain conditions.

  • Employees of religious organizations.

  • Students working for their college or university.

  • Employees of motor carriers regulated by the US Secretary of Transportation.

  • Certain employees of minor league professional baseball teams.

  • Employees under 20 years old (specific conditions apply).

  • Student employees (part-time high school or college students).

  • Tipped employees (receive a lower base wage due to tips).

  • Youths working less than 650 hours per year.

  • Certain types of jobs (e.g., farm laborers, seasonal employees).

  • Employees with disabilities under certain conditions.

  • Organizations exempt from minimum wage laws (e.g., some non-profits and educational organizations).

Overtime Only Exemptions

1. White Collar Employees: Provided they earn at least $684 per week, they are exempt from 1.5 times the pay rate for overtime. This includes administration, executive positions, professionals, and outside sales employees.

2. Specific categories of employees, such as:

  • Salesmen and mechanics primarily selling or servicing vehicles

  • Agricultural workers

  • Student learners and employees

  • Apprentices and trainees

  • Employees with disabilities

  • Minors (if working less than 650 hours per calendar year)

  • Commissioned employees.

  • Employees of non-profit educational and residential child care centers

  • Crew members of uninspected towing vessels

  • Members of bargaining units recognized by the Illinois Labor Relations Board

Both non-profit and for-profit entities must align with FLSA directives. This ensures eligible workers receive the higher federal or state minimum wage and appropriate overtime compensation. The FLSA extends its protection through individual and enterprise coverage, safeguarding workers based on the scale of business operations, annual revenue, or the nature of their duties.

Illinois Minimum Wage & Labor Law Posters

As an employer in Illinois, you’re required to visibly display specific posters detailing your employees’ rights and your duties under state employment laws. These posters are more than just a legal requirement; they are a testament to your commitment to maintaining an informed and transparent work environment.

1. Your Rights Under Illinois Employment Laws Poster

Mandatory for all employers, this poster encompasses crucial information including the Minimum Wage Law, Child Labor Law, and the One Day Rest in Seven Act. You must ensure that your workforce understands these fundamental rights and protections.

2. Paid Leave for All Workers Act Notice

All employers must exhibit this notice, explaining the accrual of up to five days of paid leave each year for workers at a rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked. Understanding the nuances of this act is essential as it provides your employees with deserved flexibility and safeguards.

3. Victims' Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA)

VESSA is indispensable for safeguarding employees affected by domestic or sexual violence. Employers must allow up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for affected individuals to obtain necessary assistance. Showcasing this notice reinforces your support for employee welfare and adherence to legal standards.

4. Employee Classification Act of 2008 Notice

For construction contractors working with independent contractors, this notice is essential. It delineates the assumption that individuals are employees unless certain criteria are fulfilled. This is particularly pertinent for ensuring transparency and fairness in employment classifications.

5. Occupational Safety & Health Act Notice

Public sector employers must post this notice, accentuating the significance of occupational safety and health standards. Establishing a safe workplace is not just a regulatory demand but also a fundamental component of a productive working environment.

6. Day and Temporary Labor Services Act Notice

Agencies that offer day and temporary labor services must post this notice detailing workers' rights, agency duties, and the legal framework governing these services. This is crucial for upholding transparency and fairness in these dynamic employment arrangements.

7. Illinois Wage Payment and Collection Act Notice

Specific construction contractors and subcontractors must post this notice, highlighting the details of wage payment and general contractors’ liability for underpayments to subcontractors’ employees. This ensures that wage fairness is upheld throughout the industry.

8. Consumer Coverage Disclosure Act Notice

All Illinois employers are mandated to disclose to their employees the specific coverage details of their insurance plans. This act necessitates the dissemination of information and the retention of documentation proving that this information was provided.

Staying abreast of and compliant with these regulations is not merely about legal adherence. It’s about cultivating a workplace that prioritizes fairness, safety, and the well-being of every employee. As 2024 progresses, remaining informed about the Illinois minimum wage and related labor laws is imperative for every restaurant and business owner in the state. This guide is your stepping stone towards a compliant, informed, and equitable workplace.

Implications for Restaurant Owners

Chicago restaurant owners are currently facing a significant shift in their payroll structure. The proposed One Fair Wage Ordinance is set to increase the minimum wage for tipped workers and phase out the tip credit within the next two years. This means that the tipped minimum wage will soon align with the standard base wage, eliminating the tip credit that previously allowed restaurant owners to pay tipped workers less, counting tips towards their wage obligations.

A comprehensive survey involving 315 restaurant owners, conducted by the Illinois Restaurant Association in August 2023, highlights the potential repercussions of this wage adjustment:

1. Adjusting Menu Prices:

  • A striking 80% of surveyed restaurants anticipate raising their menu prices to manage the increased labor costs.

2. Staffing Modifications:

  • To cope with the wage hike, 66% plan to reduce staff or consolidate positions.

  • Additionally, 58% are considering cutting back on employee hours.

3. Implementing Additional Charges:

  • Nearly half (46%) might include automatic service charges on customer bills.

  • Around 42% are thinking about adding other fees (like “Fair Wage” or “Recovery” fees).

4. Strategic Business Changes:

  • Opening future locations in areas with different wage laws is being contemplated by 36%.

  • 31% are exploring increasing automation or introducing self-service technologies.

  • A shift towards quick service or counter service models is an option for 25%.

While these steps represent restaurant owners’ strategies to offset the financial impact, it’s crucial to note that the actual effects will vary. Each restaurant’s specific situation, market position, and customer base can influence how these changes play out in reality.

Strategies for Restaurant Businesses to Adapt to the Recent Minimum Wage Increase

The minimum wage increase in Illinois and other regions has a significant impact on the restaurant industry. Here are some strategies for restaurant businesses to adapt to the recent minimum wage increase:

1. Streamline Operations

Incorporating automation into your restaurant's daily operations is a smart move to counteract rising labor costs. Consider implementing efficient restaurant point-of-sale systems that can handle order-taking and payment processing seamlessly. Additionally, invest in inventory management software to reduce waste and optimize stock levels. By automating these tasks, you save time and cut down on labor expenses.

2. Invest in Employee Training

Employee turnover can be costly. Investing in comprehensive training programs and creating detailed training manuals can improve staff retention rates. Offering performance incentives, such as bonuses or recognition programs, can boost employee morale and job satisfaction. Well-trained staff provide better customer service and may contribute to increased sales, helping offset the impact of minimum wage increases.

3. Optimize the Menu

Analyze your menu to reduce food waste, improve efficiency, and maximize profitability. Simplify your menu by reducing the number of ingredients required for each dish. Additionally, strategically price items to maintain healthy profit margins. This approach can help you absorb the increased labor costs without compromising quality or customer satisfaction.

4. Embrace Restaurant Technology

Leveraging technology is crucial in the modern restaurant landscape. Utilize online ordering systems, engage in active social media marketing, and implement loyalty programs to enhance customer experience and reduce manual labor costs. Several restaurant technologies are available to streamline operations, such as self-order kiosks, mobile payment solutions, and kitchen automation systems.

5. Monitor Metrics

Make informed decisions by closely monitoring key metrics such as labor costs, food waste, inventory levels, and sales data. Implement restaurant data analytics and reporting tools to identify trends and insights that can guide your operational decisions. Data-driven approaches can help you optimize your restaurant's performance in response to changing minimum wage regulations.

6. Adjust Pricing Strategically

While adjusting menu prices may become necessary to cope with minimum wage increases, it's essential to understand the dynamics of your customer base and market. Restaurants often operate on tight profit margins, so any price changes should be made carefully to avoid deterring customers. Be aware of the price elasticity of your menu items and consider alternative strategies, such as offering value-added meal bundles or limited-time promotions.

Adapting to minimum wage increases in Illinois requires a focused approach. By concentrating on improving operational efficiency, investing in employee training, embracing technology, and making data-driven decisions, restaurant owners can effectively navigate the challenges posed by changing labor costs. Keep in mind that staying competitive in 2024 and beyond will require continuous adaptation and a commitment to providing excellent service to your valued customers.

Don't let the complexities of minimum wage adjustments put a strain on your business. Book a free demo or consultation with Chowbus POS today, and take the first step towards a more resilient, efficient, and profitable future. Your journey towards a better-managed restaurant starts here.

Frequently Asked Questions About Illinois Minimum Wage

Explore answers to frequently asked questions about the Illinois minimum wage, including details about changes in 2024 and the average hourly salary in Chicago.

Is Minimum Wage Going Up in Illinois in 2024?

Yes, Illinois has raised its minimum wage. As of January 1, 2024, workers will earn a minimum of $14.00 hourly. Youth under 18 working fewer than 650 hours annually for an employer will receive $12.00 hourly. The minimum for tipped employees is set at $8.40 hourly. This adjustment aligns with Governor J.B. Pritzker's plan to elevate the state's minimum wage to $15 by 2025.

What is the Average Salary per Hour in Chicago 2023?

The Average Salary per Hour in Chicago in 2023 was around $35.60. This translates to an average annual salary of $74,058. Please be aware that salaries can differ significantly based on factors such as occupation and experience.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this guide is for general informational purposes only. While we strive to keep the data accurate and up-to-date, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability with respect to the information, products, services, or related graphics contained in the guide for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is, therefore, strictly at your own risk. Laws and regulations regarding minimum wage are subject to change and can vary by location. It is the reader's responsibility to consult with a qualified legal professional or the relevant authorities to ensure full compliance with the current laws and regulations.

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